Precongress courses unveiled for ESHRE 2024 as abstract submissions set new record


This year’s annual meeting in Amsterdam will feature 16 precongress courses (PCCs) with 12 organised by ESHRE’s Special Interest Groups. From fertility tourism to personalised IVF, the PCCs cover an extensive range of topical issues. The number of abstracts received for the main scientific programme has broken records once again.


A total of 16 precongress courses (PCCs) are planned for this year’s annual meeting in Amsterdam, 12 organised by ESHRE’s SIGs and three as exchange sessions with other societies. In addition, a course from the editors of the ESHRE journals will focus on how researchers can maintain the highest ethical standards in this new digital age where technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can both prevent and facilitate scientific misconduct.

From andrology to reproductive genetics, the varied PCC programme held on Sunday 7 July starting at 09.00 offers extensive learning opportunities for many attendees at ESHRE 2024. A common theme running through PCCs at ESHRE annual meetings is they strike a balance between theory and practice, with insights on hot topics delivered by experts who are respected in their field. And this year is no exception.

For every success story in fertility treatment, there are countless failures where patients never fulfil their wish of a family. Two courses focus on this reality, one from the perspective of psychosocial counselling and the other based around how the clinician can manage – and even prevent – failures in reproduction. Sharing bad news is a difficult task for clinicians and a course organised by SIG Psychology and Counselling will provide hands-on education for health professionals including nurses and midwives on how to deal with unsuccessful outcomes and counsel patients. On a similar theme, a PCC from SIG Implantation and Early Pregnancy will detail the challenges and failures that can occur in the process of reproduction from embryo to live birth, and provide strategies to overcome and prevent them.

The management of infertility associated with endometriosis features prominently in PCC’s this year. Surgical treatment is the focus of a course devised by SIG Reproductive Surgery. This concentrates on the effectiveness of a laparoscopic approach and provides data to highlight which patients will benefit most from minimally invasive surgery. SIG Endometriosis and Endometrial Disorders also features a presentation on whether patients need surgery in a course that takes a broad look at how to treat endometriosis and adenomyosis patients.

No less than three head-to-head debates feature in a PCC dedicated to individualised approaches to controlled ovarian stimulation in ART. Tailoring or ‘personalising’ IVF treatment to each woman based on potential ovarian response and other factors could lead to safer and more effective IVF practice. But knowledge gaps and a lack of consensus persist. Starting with the basics, this course from SIG Reproductive Endocrinology will cover current and cutting-edge technology, and promises a series of lively discussions. Richard Legro and Georg Griesinger will argue for and against the need for weight loss before ART; Nick Macklon and Michael Feichtinger take opposite sides on the use of frozen embryo transfer; and George Lainas and Ying Cheong put forward the pros and cons for luteinizing hormone (LH).

SIG Global and Sociocultural Aspects of Infertility describes the worldwide dynamics of reproductive journeys taken by patients as a ‘reproductive Silk Route’. The SIG has put together a comprehensive course that promises to explore the ethical and legal dimensions around gamete movement – or ‘reprotravel’ – in an age where patients are turning increasingly to reproductive services across borders. The ethical perspective of this trend, which can be fraught with regulatory pitfalls, will be covered by Guido Pennings. James Lawford Davies, a UK-based solicitor who specialises in fertility and embryo law, will provide an in-depth analysis of the issues faced by individuals and couples when they return home after using surrogacy services abroad.

Oxidative stress assays for male infertility, microbiome testing and high throughput sequencing for prenatal testing are among innovations in reproductive genetics testing, either in development or already available in the clinic. But does the reality of these add-on treatments live up to their promise? This question is the focus for a series of presentations and discussions devised by SIG Reproductive Genetics, which will also include an update on genome-wide sequencing of cfDNA in early pregnancy loss, and on conventional and innovative applications for PGT.

Whether or not clinicians believe AI is yet fit for use in healthcare, the technology is fast working its way into medicine including in the IVF lab. As such, a PCC will address the advantages and disadvantages of AI as well as its ethical limits in highly topical presentations by Jackson Kirkman-Brown, Heidi Mertes, and Ioannis Sfontouris among others. While there has been much hype around the capabilities of AI, a key and as yet unsolved dilemma faced by clinicians is who is accountable when things go wrong. Theofano Bounartzi hopes to provide some answers in his presentation on accountability and responsibility of AI algorithms.

As for the main programme, this year is another record breaker. A total of 2,218 abstracts had been received at ESHRE’s central office by the submission deadline of the end of January. The previous best was 2,109 last year in Copenhagen when 2,109 abstracts were received. The task now is to score the abstracts and organise them into the selected oral communication sessions. They will then be presented on the three days of the main programme, from Monday 8 July to Wednesday 10 July.

Delivering the latest updates, news and viewpoints, this year’s annual meeting will demonstrate why ESHRE continues to be the world’s leading society in reproductive medicine and science.

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